Purley Way air quality figures that are sure to leave you gasping

The air quality measurements for the Purley Way for the seven days to March 25. The legal limit is 40 micorgrams per litre

The air quality measurements for the Purley Way for the seven days to March 25. The legal limit is 40 micrograms per cubic metre. The EU limits were broken on five days

Earlier this month, Inside Croydon reported how the council’s planning committee had granted permission for a 540-pupil primary school to be built alongside one of the busiest – and most polluting – arterial roads in the capital, the A23 Purley Way.

A council environmental health officer told that planning meeting that, “If a parent and child is crossing the Purley Way at Fiveways on foot, they will receive insignificant exposure to pollutants.”

Yet so concerned is the council about the air quality near the school, they are undertaking extra costs to hermetically seal the pupils – some as young as five – inside the building from the outside air. The school, which will be built at public expense for the Harris Federation academy operators, is to cost at least £22 million.

Despite the anonymous council officer’s assurances, an independent monitoring service operated by King’s College London shows levels of nitrogen dioxide on the Purley Way had exceeded European legal levels on 22 of the previous 28 days.

On one day in that month, the levels of nitrogen dioxide reached two and a half times the legal limit. Or what is, according to Croydon Council, is an “insignificant exposure to pollutants” for young children.

The council’s position is that the air quality at the site is within EU requirements, because it averages out as being below 40 micrograms per cubic metre (ug/m³). Such averaging depends heavily on measurements during the wee small hours and weekends, when traffic levels are reduced, and when small children are not on their way to school.

Perhaps that February to March four-week period was a freak, with unusually high levels of pollutants? So we checked again for last week. Guess what… Legal limits on air pollution on the Purley Way were exceeded on five days in the past week, with nitrogen dioxide levels reaching nearly twice the amounts allowed.

Or “insignificant exposure to pollutants”, according to Croydon Council’s unnamed environmental health officer.

We’ll be keeping a check on the air quality measures on a regular basis. If you want to check out the figures for yourself, go to londonair.org.uk.


About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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5 Responses to Purley Way air quality figures that are sure to leave you gasping

  1. derekthrower says:

    No doubt Harris will claim when their educational performance is at its usual shoddy bogstandard level that it is due to high levels of localised pollution.

  2. I have heard stacks of this sort of unprofessional drivel (insignificant exposures)from people who are paid to support their council employers.I have a profound contempt for them and for the councillors involved…any medic holding such a position deserves to be disciplined or struck off.
    Now let’s come to the “lab rats” that are going to be put through their paces,here.They are not numbers,but biological organisms.They do not have on-off reactions,but complex immune system cascades and 24 hour hormonal effects post exposure,(seee the first three posts here)


    That half hour walk exposure will trigger reactions and extra sensitivity that will catch them on their way home as well.
    It has been a common defensive local authority tactic to talk about Noxes.OR particulates,OR ozone.Remember it is all three,and the morbidity for any one leaves much unsaid.

    Indoor air pollution has come under much scrutiny in the last 2 years…it is considerable,and the mantra “if its bad outside,its bad inside” is not without merit.
    CAMFIL is the company that make very big,very good,very expensive air filters.You just watch the builders or the council slide away from providing these,or maintaining them poorly:


    But I have to be honest here….as the economy slumps,government cuts get deeper and education privatisation REALLY begins to bite…I don’t beileive a word of it.I think they will hope everyone goes away and forgets…
    shame about the lab rats’ lungs and hearts and brains though!

  3. Lots of pollution round Purley Way, all scientifically measurable. What can’t be measured, but is just as significant, is the additional pollution caused by the noxious vapourings of our local politicians and their apologists. The solution, of course, is simple. Open the new school only between 11pm and 6am, plenty of time, no significant pollution.

  4. joeycan says:

    Many years ago I worked in a multi-storey hermetically-sealed building. One could not open the windows but the noise level was much lower so that we could all concentrate on our jobs better. It was good fun, with internally circulating scrubbed air, ho!, ho!
    However, if a person in the basement sneezed, within a week we all caught the cold; healthy existence – not.
    Two thoughts; (a) why are the ratepayers paying £22M so that a millionaire carpet salesman can increase his empire at my expense instead of paying for it himself and (b) how is it that the Council’s own Environmental Health Department can slope shoulders over this nightmare and get away with not being sacked en bloc?.

  5. veeanne2015 says:

    Harris Federation advertised their new Purley Way Academy in January (presumably considering that Planning Permission would be forthcoming for anything they wanted), and before the publication later that month of the verified 5 GCSE A-C including English/Maths results from the previous summer.
    These showed that Harris Purley had the biggest reduction in Croydon (20%) from the previous year, the second lowest English Baccalaureate %, and for those academically able enough to get A-Cs in both English and Maths, the second highest % unable to get a mere 3 more GCSE/Equivalents !
    With 30 pupils short of the full intake at exam time last summer, no wonder they want to acquire as many ‘feeder’ primary schools as possible, regardless of the health of the children.

    With congestion on Purley Way worse, parents from central Croydon stopping the traffic to turn into Morrison’s car park as well as additional traffic for Westfield and the Incinerator, and all traffic having to stop to let all these children cross, the exhaust pollution will be maximum and far worse at the level of the small primary school children and their younger siblings’ noses who are having to walk along Purley Way from the car park and wait at the crossing, then walk the last bit to the school, their lungs already congested at the start of their school day.

    This journey cannot be ‘hermetically sealed’ ?
    Or is that not of concern to Harris ?

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